Sinking an aircraft carrier

Ultimate Engineering

An explosive ordinance team’s mission: sink the USS Oriskany and create the largest artificial reef in the world in the Gulf of Mexico. This 270-meter long aircraft carrier represents a pinnacle of military engineering. Now the US Navy must figure out a way to sink the unsinkable. Parallax Film Productions follows this intense operation.

From battling through 10-centimetre thick steel plating to tackling hazardous environmental waste, the crew discovers the secret to sinking the beast and writes a new chapter in marine demolition.

After 25 years of service all over the world – including in Korea, Vietnam and the Mediterranean – the USS Oriskany is towed more than 38 kilometres off the coast of Pensacola, Florida. There, the Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal team detonates strategically-placed explosives in 22 sea chest pipes and valves for an unparalleled send-off to its final destination.

The ex-Oriskany was the first ship to be environmentally prepared using the Environmental Protection Agency’s Best Management Practices for Preparing Vessels for Use as Artificial Reefs, and is the first ship to receive risk-based Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) disposal approval from the EPA based on the agency’s findings that the reefing would not pose an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.

Now the 32,000 ton ship serves marine life and tourists, stimulating sport fishing and recreation diving off the coast of the Florida panhandle – and remains a testament to ultimate engineering.A 2004 Florida State University study estimated an artificial reef would bring Escambia County $92 million a year in economic benefits.